Friday, October 18, 2013

Talking To Littles.

How open are you with your Littles? Do you answer all their questions straightforwardly and completely or do you use "soft words" as My Littles' dentist does or change the subject to get out of an awkward conversation/explanation? I'm sure some people would disagree with my approach to My Littles' questions but so far there hasn't been a topic of conversation I have shied away from. I answer factually using real adult words without sugar-coating anything. And if they don't ask any follow ups to their follow ups, I feel I've exhausted the topic. On meaning of life questions, I don't give a one-sided answer but instead ask them what they think. Then if they ask what I think, I tell them my opinion or belief then help them see it from another angle. I love their questions and having this type of conversation with the hope they remain open-minded and open-hearted to all people and ideas.
Now that The Little Girls are both in school, we have many discussions about families and what that looks like in their school community. Some kids live with both a mother and father, some are raised by an Aunt or Uncle, some are raised by single parents and some by grandparents. Because of our friendships outside of school, The Little Girls are familiar with the dynamics of a family that is fostering children, adopting children, when grandparents live under the same roof as the child's nuclear family or families with same-gendered parents. But their comfort is in fact rooted in the honesty Tim and I provide in our answers to any previous questions about any of the above family frameworks. And yes, they have explored and continue to explore any picture of a family that is different than their own because that is what littles do in order to make sense of their world.
I bring this all up because I am still tossing around a conversation I had earlier this week with a mom whose son is in Savannah's class. The little boy has been bullied this year and in turn became one himself and so he is currently suspended from school due to being a danger to others and himself. His mom was talking about what a good kid he is and how he has just gotten off track and doesn't understand what's going on with himself. I tuned out a little because she was talking about what they watch on TV and then I focused back in because she was talking about how she likes to watch Modern Family and her boys are always confused/grossed out by the two gay dads in the show. She was telling me that she and her husband always answer their boys questions by saying the dads in the show are teasing or playing a joke that they are married. She doesn't want them to take it seriously. A GIANT RED SPINNING SIREN WENT OFF IN MY HEAD. Then she asked, "What else am I going to say?" not really asking me but sort of ending the conversation. I told her that we have family friends in same-sex relationships, some who have adopted kids and live as a family just like we do. She looked at me blankly then told me how her son doesn't like his new pediatrician because he is brown. I stifled a gasp, tried not to be physically ill and busied myself by helping the teacher while knowing full well that if this Mom's little boy continues down his current path, no person outside of his own understanding of normal is safe from his bullying.
Ignorance like this can be remedied by having open, honest conversations. Whether or not you agree with someone else's lifestyle choice, political persuasion, religious affiliation or understand someone's cultural background, an open conversation with your Littles answering their questions shows them you respect, hear and value them and in turn they feel the same towards you. Maybe you aren't as blatant as I, perhaps you are tactful with "soft words". My hope is you can facilitate a discussion to provide understanding and acceptance for your Littles.


  1. Mud, I'm shaking my head . . .how did you hold your tongue?? I would have, no doubt, been much less diplomatic than you. You have such grace. I love the way you talk to your kids. You've inspired and role-modeled that behavior for my own parenting.

  2. I agree with what you've said. I try to be very honest when answering questions. And I find it interesting that sometimes they only need a short explanation, not a lengthy one like I might expect. And then they can move on. Teaching tolerance is so important. Keep up the good work!